Safe haven for East Tennessee children

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Morristown (WVLT) - Most of us enjoy gathering with family for Christmas.

But children who are abused, neglected or abandoned may not even have a home to go.

Volunteer TV's Rob Pratt spent the day with an area family that's been providing a temporary home for young people in need for three decades.

It's called the Youth Emergency Shelter.

It's located in Morristown, but the couple who started it has touched the lives of more than 12,000 young people throughout the region.

There are presents under the tree as in most homes. But these gifts are for children who can not be at home this Christmas.

The Youth Emergency Shelter in Morristown is home to kids who've been neglected, abused or abandoned.

Monday there are five teenage boys here, but at any moment, this could become home to as many as 20 boys or girls from newborn to age 17.

Youth Emergency Shelter Director Eddie Davis says, "I'm a firm believer that God put us on this earth to help each other, and the lesser ones among us need the most help."

Eddie Davis is a hands-on director.

In 1979 Eddie and his wife, Betty, could not believe that abused kids often had to stay in the basement of the jail.

They changed that, starting with a small house and now, two buildings later, they have a staff of eleven.

There's never been a single night withtout a child.

Eddie says, "They're scared to death when they get here, hungry, hurt. When they leave us, they've got a smile on their face, and sometimes they've got a hug for you. That's what keeps you going."

Eddie's wife Betty has been his partner every step of the way. She raised four children of her own while running the shelter.

These stuffed animals mark the time.

One for each of the Shelter's 29 Christmases.

Youth Emergency Shelter Assistant Director Betty Davis says, "We try to make it happy for them, with gifts and things like that. And teach them what the meaning of Christmas is. A lot of these kids don't know what the meaning of Christmas is."

Even if there were no presents to open, the Davis's say some kids have told them just getting to stay in the shelter is like a gift.

Two weeks ago, a boy, whose father forced him to spend cold nights in a shed, thanked them for giving him a warm bed and food to eat.

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